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A descriptive analysis of conventional, organic and GM crop and certified seed production in the EU

Funded under: FP7-JRC


Recently, the introduction of GM crops and GM seeds in agricultural production in the EU and elsewhere has raised the issue of adventitious presence of GM seeds in conventional seed lots. Article 21(2) of Directive 2001/18/EC provides that for products where adventitious or technically unavoidable traces of authorised GMOs cannot be excluded, a minimum threshold may be established below which the products shall not have to be labelled in accordance with the provisions of the Directive. In the absence of such thresholds, which is the current status of seed production, the legislation requires the labelling of conventional seed lots which contain any detectable adventitious traces of GM seeds (which have been authorised for cultivation under Community legislation) (Directive 2001/18/EC). The legal requirement is not new and has been in place since labelling provisions were introduced under Directive 90/220/EEC and maintained under Directive 2001/18/EC (which replaced Directive 90/220/EEC). It remains illegal to place on the market conventional seed lots that contain GM seeds that have not been approved for cultivation. This has been the case since Directive 90/220/EEC entered into force in 1991. The Commission is currently examining the possibility to establish thresholds for the maximum adventitious presence of GM material in certified seeds and is assessing the impact associated with the introduction of different threshold values, as regards to agronomic (technical) feasibility of production and to economic impacts for seed producers, farmers, food and feed producers, and the necessary freedom of choice between genetically modified, conventional and organic crops. In this context, understanding the current status and likely evolution of crop and seed production in the EU is necessary as a basis to carry any further assessment of the effects of the regulation of adventitious GM presence in seeds.

Additional information

Authors: GRAZIANO CEDDIA M, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Seville (ES);RODRÍGUEZ CEREZO E, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Seville (ES)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 23443 EN (2008), various paging. Free of charge
Availability: (Catalogue Number: LF-NA-23443-EN-C)
ISBN: ISBN: 978-92-79-09563-4
Record Number: 200910041 / Last updated on: 2008-11-20
Original language: en
Available languages: en
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